Each year within Cubscouts there is the annual Popcorn drive. Some Packs do this and/or wreath sales. In the Spring some Packs also do meat sticks and chocolate bar sales. I get the fundraising aspect of Scouts. “The Cub Scout helps the pack go.” In our Pack, we usually do Popcorn as the main source and fundraiser. We also have done Wreaths since Elliot was a Tiger as a Pack. But not a lot of wreaths get sold. This year that changed. Our District Popcorn Kernal ended her three year run and the District was late in getting a Kernal. Our Pack PK bailed out on us saying they did not want to do it for several reasons.
Now, for those in the District/Pack/Council that read this, I have nothing bad to say about the people who are/were the PK. I am just frustrated with the CHANGE and deployment issues it created. Those people are my friends and I understand the situation. I am working under the “A Scout is Kind” theory for this blog. However, being Kind does not limit a Scout in biting their tongue when something needs to be said, as in A Scout is Honest too!
Because of the change in Popcorn Kernals, out Pack really did not roll it out. We normally have a show & sale at stores. This year since we did not have a PK, it was a take order only and deliver later like the Girl Scouts do with Cookies. So, we are not going to meet the sales we did last year. We did send out an email to all the Parents of the Pack before School started (which I think this has started and ended earlier than normal) asking and explaining Popcorn and that we need a PK. The Sound of Silence was deafening. The Council training that we sent a new Committee Member to was so not geared to newbies. It was all the ones that know how the game works. Also getting info on how to do what we needed to do it was severely lacking.
A quick note before going on…The Council gets 33%, Trails-End gets 33% and if you get to the Popcorn Meeting the Pack gets 32% If you don’t then its 27%. Doing the math here? Last year we as a Pack got $3500 or so. The boys sold $12-$13K. Our Pack uses a ISA setup and we changed the split this year to benefit the boys and pack a lot better. While I understand that Popcorn is how a Council gets Operating Capital along with other resources, it’s still a lot taken away from the boys.
With Wreaths all we have to do is pay the cost of the wreath and then split it between the Pack & Scout in the ISA. It’s now 50/50 between the two of them. Both the Scout and Pack benefit. There is no 3rd & 4th party.
So, the benefit to doing Wreaths is that the direct Scout and Unit get more money to cover and do more stuff. Using Popcorn, others cut into your profit. But, let’s look at this further. Within the world of Popcorn each year Trails-End changes packaging, product offerings and weights of them. The prices also change and are not always in a cheaper fashion. In Girl Scouts, the cookies are really almost the same price and they do not change offerings that much. Yes, this year they did away with a couple, but Thin Mints are still there! (Mind you the whole infrastructure to GS cookies are completely different. In GS, there is no way to turn in any left over cookies. in BSA, you can turn back popcorn. In GS all checks are made out to Girlscouts, in BSA it’s to the Unit. The GS is the bank for the cookies, the BSA has no bank and the Unit is respondsible. In GS each Parent is financially libel for every box, they sign a form before the girls can sell. In the BSA, there are no forms to sign to be financially libel. How do I know this? I took Cookie Training last year and signed the form. SCOUTS HONOR!) So, with the change of pricing within Popcorn a lot of Scouts were turned down or got questioned about it. If someone did not buy they gave $$ instead just to make sure they got to camp. This year, I have even heard that when one Scout went Door to Door the person not only did not buy they gave back last years popcorn cause they did not like it.
So, for several reasons we are switching to Wreaths. They are not profitable, support from the District and Council was not really clear and late. Will I continue to support the District & Council? Yes, by all means. I have done FOS each year, and will continue to do so. And yes, I do have the James E. West Knot.
So, to Elliot. The reason that I am in Scouting and care deeply and passionately about. Because the fundraising was not totally rolled-out correctly (my fault at the Pack Meeting/Join Night I skipped right over it and ended the meeting and realized it too late). He was disappointed that there were no real prizes like in years past. (Yes, again gripe of mine with Popcorn). The Pack came up with a Marshmellow Gun type thing for the top $$ earner in each Den and then the Den with the most $$ gets a Bowling Party at Big Al’s. While he likes that, Elliot is more into the prizes. So, I made him a personal deal.
Deal is this: First each boy to pay for the year in our Pack is $300. That will cover the $145 for Registration/Boys Life, books, awards ETC. If there is $$ left over that can be applied to other activities that are not covered by Pack Dues and including Summer Camp. He gets and understand this. So, today when we went to go sell, he said that he did not want to.
He explained that he would do it, but there are no prizes that he likes. Good reason. In a Sales Job there needs to be a motivation. I did explain that why should I pay $145 for him to do Cub Scouts when he has earned it himself the past couple of years. He asked what he could do. Told him about work around the house. Ok, he’s not into that. Asked again. He came up with, what if I do Wreaths but get prizes that I want. Ok, what do you want Elliot? Magic Cards and a DS Game. (He had just seen one at a store that in the used section for $14). Ok, seems fair. But, I have rules too. $300 in sales and he gets $30 of Magic Cards. $450 for the DS Game. He agreed with that.
Did I bribe my son? No, not really. I gave him an incentive to earn money for Scouting so he would pay for it himself. He was going to do it only if there were prizes. So, to me, that’s instant gratification. Something tangible. It’s like handing out the patch they earned the next meetings or day of the event. I kept him involved with earning his own way and explaining how important it is that he does it.
The whole idea about earning your way, being thrifty is providing a tangible benefit to the person doing it so they get something out of it. Which, if the people who run the Popcorn program stood back and looked at what was good, what was bad, what could be better and how to better comunciate the WHY you should do it, then the people putting it on would get a better return. I know this because the former District PK, raised sales for three years running each year from when she took it over. When she took over it was very low. This year, there are only 4 Pack participating. Last year there were 8-9.
I had to make it attractable to Elliot. Which in the end, it’s really about “The pack helps the Cub Scout grow.” It’s a cycle. Teach and explain to them well, and everyone will get what they need and want.